“You Owe It To Yourself – Make The Call – No More Student Debt”
“The Federal program nicknamed Obama Student Loan Forgiveness may help you drastically lower your student loan payment–Learn more!”
“Speak With Certified Credit Counselors.”
Hmm… they're right. I DO owe it to myself. My work-life balance was not instantly gratifying at all last week. I just need something positive in my life right now until Starbucks has pumpkin lattes.
…Wait. Hold on. I think I see something on the website next to the picture of the super happy lady holding all of that money. If I squint really really hard and turn up the brightness on my computer screen I think I can read it:
WHAT?! You offer a paid service to help me understand some $hit I could just look up on Google and do for free?!
Annnnnnd that's the scam ladies and gentlemen. The unfortunate reality of the internet is that there is always someone trying to take your money for something you don't really need. It's like a [email protected]$$ amplification tool sometimes.
I've seen a lot of *incorrect* statuses on my Facebook timeline about student loan forgiveness lately, so what better way to correct those people than by doing it indirectly in a large public forum?
The three quotes that I found at the beginning of this post were from ACTUAL student loan “relief” companies that show up as sponsored suggestions in Google. There are a couple of things you should know if you are trying to tackle your student loan debt and want to avoid getting screwed over!
Here are three ways to spot student loan forgiveness scams:
1) They want your money
This one is pretty simple. Government-backed, legit student loan forgiveness programs are free. Now, unfortunately, that doesn't mean that you will actually qualify for any of them…but it won't cost you to find out.
These “debt relief” companies make money by convincing people to either pay a large one time fee of a $1,000+, or a monthly subscription to fill out some free paperwork for debt consolidation on your behalf. That would be fine (I love capitalism), but they generally pretend to be part of the government or promise that your loans will just magically disappear. ***SPOILER ALERT*** They won't. Sorry.
If they say they have your best interest in mind or they will find a customized, instant relief solution for you – they're lying. That's just fluffy crap to get you to pay them for something you can do on your own. There is no immediate way to have your loans erased even with the legitimate forgiveness programs.
2) They attempt to look like a government entity
Don't let “Federal” or a “.us” at the end of their URL fool you – these companies are private. Some of them even have a fancy shield logo that vaguely looks like something the government would use, with a tiny disclaimer that states the company is not affiliated with the government in any way.
The Department of Education is the only entity that can forgive or consolidate your federal student loans. Period.
That's not to say that it isn't complicated and unbelievably hard to wade through the first time you try to digest all of the information that the Department of Education website provides. But any company that pushes loan forgiveness as a service is probably too good to be true.
3) They blitz you with ads
Facebook ads, Google, whatever. If they are targeting you with ads, it's probably a for-profit company in one way or another. Just so you know – the government completely sucks at getting the word out about their legitimate loan forgiveness programs (which is one reason student loan blogs do so well).
Uncle Sam probably won't be retargeting you on Facebook anytime soon. That would take…organization and stuff.
So what can you actually do to save money on your student loans?
- If you have a solid job and are comfortable financially, a refinance could be a great option for you while interest rates are so low. My recommendation is to go through Credible (it's free). They're literally the only rate comparison company I trust enough to allow on this site. You can use their comparison app through my exclusive link.
- Go to the Department of Education website and start snooping around. There is a TON of information to wade through, but you can be confident that it's 100% legit. There's no reason to risk your personal information for a debt relief scam.